1997 Virginia Wine Tour

Ride summary by Jack Powell

"The Ole Jim Kinn Wine Tour 1997 at Charlottesville, VA"

bicycle chain

Donna and I did our first Wine Tour in 95 with Jim Kinn and about eight others. We had a blast that trip. Last year Fran hit and spoiled our plans to go again. So we were looking forward to this year wine tour. Hope this story will spark your desire to go next year.

We left Raleigh after lunch Friday Oct 4th and drove up to the KOA campground just south of Charlottesville, VA. The weather forecast predicted clear skies and comfortable temperatures for the entire weekend. Everyone had reserved a site to assure a good location for tent camping.. After we set up our gear we prepared our evening meal, carbo loaded, then chit chatted some with the others before bed.

Saturday morning everyone prepared breakfast at camp and made ready for our tour for the day. It was good we had reserved the campsites, because there was a big game being played at UVA and the campground was full. We planned to visit Afton Winery and Totier Creek Winery today. Jim passed out the cue sheets and maps, then we were off and rolling. The outbound route to Afton is progressively up hill westward. The route would follow narrow back roads with low or no traffic, except for a short one mile section on HWY 250, winding through the valleys of mountain foot hills along creek beds with short ups and downs. We were staying in a group or slow pace line most of the time. As we climbed over one of the bigger hills called Isaiah Pass we approached an official car with lights flashing and another car (a taxi) parked on the shoulder (strange a taxi out here). As we got within about 100 yards, there was a gun shot which alarmed us. Then very quickly a big deputy sheriff came out of the woods toting a shotgun just as we passed. There was a woman standing in the road crying. As I was starting to wonder what kind of mess we were getting into, the deputy said as we road by," it was a deer". Apparently the woman was riding in the taxi when it hit the deer and they call the sheriff's office to have someone put it out of its misery. Going on up the hill I could see in my mirror that the taxi went down the hill as the deputy sped by us up the hill. I am a hunter and I immediately thought how wasteful it was they were just leaving the deer there to rot. Then in about five minutes the deputy came back by us in the other direction. We speculated he was going to get that deer now that everyone had left the scene. I hope he did!

The small community of Afton is about half way up the mountain on which the Blue Ridge Parkway is located. There is a tough climb with a few switch backs to get up to Afton. Afton is on the 1976 Bicentennial Bike Route that crosses America. It is also home of the famous "Cookie Lady" and we dropped in on her without notice. She gave us a tour of her house and yes some cookies. There were thousands of post cards on the walls to browse and many other interesting artifacts. I was especially interested in the old homemade tandem which was fabricated from two road bike frames. After some picture taking we headed off toward Afton Winery which is a couple miles away from Afton on the side of the Blue Ridge Mountain. At the winery they had a picnic table so we ate our packed lunches prior to the tasting party to avoid side affects of tasting on empty stomachs. After tasting their offerings and purchasing a bottle of Chardonnay we headed off for Totier Creek Winery which is about 30 miles away east and mostly downhill.

I should mention that the touring group consisted of Jim Kinn, Al Johnson, Duncan and Laura McCabe, and Donna and myself. Duncan and Laura are from Wilmington, De, but now live in Wilmington, NC. They had came to Raleigh a few times last summer to participate in NCBC rides and All Star tandem rides so we were already acquainted. Duncan and Laura were braving the hills on their tandem and suffering up the hard hills while the remainder of us were on singles including Donna and I. Now it is an interesting f act that Duncan and Laura have about the same length inseams and they can switch off positions on their tandem. Because of this body size match up, Laura can Captain the tandem as well as Duncan and they can switch positions without adjusting the seat height. Laura claims because of this unique feat she is a "Rear Admiral" and not a Stoker. Now Donna just loves this term Rear Admiral and was soon also trying to claim the title for herself. Being an old male chauvinist, I quickly disagreed with them. Bosh , no way, I told them! They may be Admirable Rears, but not Rear Admirals. After we road past several horse farms and an apple orchard we crossed route 29 where the pace picked up. While following a creek down a long windy road the miles were flying by. Captain Duncan and his Admirable Rear had the hammer down. Big Al, Donna and I were trying to hang on. I had a 13x29 rear cassette and I was out of gears. I felt like my legs were just a spinning blur trying to keep up with the tandem. The draft was best right behind Big Al when he was right on the tandem's wheel. I had never seen Big Al go so fast. He was cruising down the highway and loving it. Ten or twelve miles flew by and we were soon at Totier Creek. We had dropped Jim along the way and that was not nice of us, but we were having so much fun. We had also stayed at Cookie Lady's too long in the morning and were behind schedule. We had to be sure we got to Totier before they closed. When we got there we skipped touring the winery and went directly to the tasting room and had a few. Jim soon rolled in and we toasted his arrival. We had only about five miles to travel to get back to camp but we had to hurry to beat dark. As we had purchased more wine than we could carry, I drove my truck back to Totier to pick up the case of wine the group had purchased. Back at camp we split up the bottles of wine and the money. We had used up the whole day to go only about 56 miles but we had a heck of a good time. After dark everyone cooked an evening meal. Then we all told a tale or two, had a sip or two, and we went to our bags for some needed sleep.

We awoke Sunday morning to clear skies and favorable temperatures. First thing on our minds was restrooms, then coffee and something to eat. Today itinerary was Whitehall Winery and Oakencroft Winery. Both are north of I64 and west of Charlottesville. The KOA is south of Charlottesville. After about 10 miles as we approached Taylor's Gap, Big Al decided to abort the ride due to a sore leg. The remainder of us went on. At the community of Whitehall there is a small old country store. We sat on the front porch and ate our packed lunches. A young lady from the university happen by and wanted to take a lot of pictures of us. She was studying photography. Being the hams we are, we obliged her. She was supposed to send me copies of the pictures but they never came in the mail. It was about two miles to the Whitehall Winery. Due to a course gravel road, some of us walked the last mile to avoid possible tire damage. The Winery was a very nice Latin style building, but no one was there. The sign on the door indicated they should be open so we waited for about half an hour with other visitors. Then we decided we could not afford to lose any more time and wheeled away without a taste, what a shame. We speculated they were all at the Wine Festival being held at Boars Head in Charlottesville.

We now wheeled away east toward Charlottesville to visit Oakencroft Winery. I had an alternate rout planned to avoid some traffic Donna and I had encountered back in September while scouting the route. The alternate route was taken from information I obtained from Delorme Street Atlas USA. I have not used this software much as we just obtained it last summer. In the past I have relied on county highway maps to write cue sheets. As it turned out the alternate route soon became a gravel road and we made a U-turn back onto the original route. Beware of maps that don't differentiate between dirt and pavement. At Owensboro there is a horse track but nothing was going on. Traffic gets a little heavy as you get closer to Charlottesville. The Oakencroft Winery w as a large layout, but they charge a fee for the tasting. I can not ever remember being ask to pay a tasting fee before at wineries I have visited in NY, PA, or VA. The wines were very good so we got over the fee and enjoyed the tasting party. In fact we bought lots of wine and made up for not being able to obtain any at Whitehall. Actually, Donna and I bought too much, more than we could carry. Many thanks to Captain Duncan and his Admirable Rear. They had panniers on the tandem and volunteered to haul our excess. On the way back to camp the McCabe's made a breakaway and we let them go. We stayed back and continued at Jim's pace. The weather was great and we had no reason to rush, nor did Jim as he was staying over night and planning to return to Raleigh on Monday. However, the McCabe/s had a long trip back to Wilmington ahead so they wanted to get back to camp early.

About half way back we tackled Hell Hill, as we named it, on Dry Bridge Rd.. There is a short wall on the back side of Taylor's Gap that will get your tongue out and your butt off the saddle, some even put their feet on the street. We waited for Jim at the top and rode on into camp all together. The trip today was just a little over fifty miles and wonderful.

At camp, the McCabe's were just leaving and we said our good-byes, Donna and I also soon were ready to go and left Jim to hold down the fort for one more night alone. It took us about four hours to get to Raleigh.

A noteworthy bonus ride for ATB is a five mile long single track around the lake at Walnut Creek County Park just 2 miles from camp. However, no wine for the "dirt heads", give'em soap and water! Ya'll take care, see ya come spring, Captain Jack.

Page maintained by David L. Cole and last revised on Thursday, December 11, 1997.
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